Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo Thoughts–Giving Dull Images Some Punch

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
Copyright © Ron Martinsen – All Rights Reserved
Canon 5D Mark II – 1/125 sec at f/8, ISO 160
Elinchrom RX600 & Deep Octa

If you hover over the image above you’ll see the before image that I started with. I was quite happy with that image, but I’m thrilled with the final edited version. Here’s what I did:

  1. I used Lightroom 3 to export the raw file to Photoshop CS4 using a decent starting point and some cropping.
  2. I used Imagenomic Portraiture and I downloaded one of their free actions from here so I could use the PTBlackSkinAverage1 action to get a pleasing skin enhancement for this young mans skin.
  3. Next, I used the healing brush to remove skin blemishes.
  4. I used Viveza 2 to bleach out the background so I could get a quick and easy selection of just the background using the quick selection tool. I did the selection on the blue channel using a technique I learned in The Photoshop Channels Book (my favorite book on selection). I also used an overlay brush to paint around the edges of the hair (a technique described in the book) to quickly get the edges of the hair perfect in the mask. In this Viveza enhancement I also brightened up the gold chain.
  5. The image was looking good at this point but I wanted it to be a “wow” image, so I used a trick I just learned in some training I’ll discuss here soon. I selected the red channel from the channels pallete, pasted it into a new layer and then set the blending mode to soft light. This trick was like magic and really gave this image the look I wanted. I used a layer mask to keep only the portions I wanted.
  6. With a good selection of just the background I used Photoframe to add this really cool background. I used the refine edge masking feature to get my mask perfect so there weren’t any halos along the hair or torso.
  7. I used Nik Software’s Tonal Contrast filter found in Color Efex to give the shirt a little more texture.
  8. I used the liquefy tool to deal with some problems in the shirt on the left side and by the bicep to that the shirt looked a little cleaner along that edge.
  9. I did a LAB Color enhancement at 25% opacity on the b channel per the instructions in Scott Kelby’s fantastic 7 Point System book.
  10. I finished off with some sharpening (but only on the subject, not the background) using Sharpener Pro to give it a final touch.

Total time spent – about 4 hours, most of which was experimenting and doing the cloning and healing work.

Lot’s of cool tricks were used on this one, so my advice here is to read the books mentioned and get the add-ins I used if you like this look. All my tools were super helpful on this one!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity


Anonymous said...

Great work! There is still a little light spill from the white background on the edge of the right arm and shoulder, it would be interesting to see if this can be removed.

Ron Martinsen said...


Are you talking about a slight white fringe? If so, then yeah that's just a place where I need to tighten up my mask a little better. I was pretty tired when I worked on this so I missed a couple things, but overall I'm happy with it. Non-photographers will never notice it. :-)